Viggo Mortensen stars in "Captain Fantastic."

‘Captain Fantastic’ – Alternative family values on Kanopy

Captain Fantastic (2016) is a road movie, a family drama, a tale of loss, and a loving portrait of an alternative family that is prepared to face everything but the modern world. Viggo Mortensen is Ben, the father who (with his equally committed but currently absent wife) moved into the deep woods of the Pacific […]

Jennifer Lawrence stars in the Oscar nominated film by Debra Granik

Jennifer Lawrence arrives in ‘Winter’s Bone’ on Netflix

Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone (2010), set in the crime and poverty of the Ozark Mountains, is a coming-of-age survival story in an outlaw culture where meth labs have replaced moonshine stills and the code of silence is enforced with pitiless finality. Jennifer Lawrence was revelation as the 17-year-old Ree, who has grown up fast to […]

James Cagney stars in the gangster classic from Raoul Walsh

‘White Heat’ – James Cagney on top of the world on The Criterion Channel

“Made it, ma. Top of the world!” One of the greatest gangster classics of all time, White Heat (1949) stars James Cagney in an explosive performance as psychotic career criminal Cody Jarrett, driven over the edge by blinding headaches and murderous rages that only his mother can calm. Until, that is, she’s murdered while he’s […]

Grace Kelly and Cary Grant, directed by Alfred Hitchcock

‘To Catch a Thief’ on Amazon Prime Video

To Catch a Thief (1955), Alfred Hitchcock’s frothiest entertainment, stars Cary Grant as a reformed jewel thief on the French Riviera who immediately comes under suspicion when a cat burglar goes to work on the rich and famous staying in the local luxury hotels. Heiress Grace Kelly decides to play detective the best way she […]

Tilda Swinton in Bong Joon-ho 's 'Snowpiercer'

‘Snowpiercer’ – careening allegory on Netflix

Snowpiercer (2013), an international production from Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho and a French graphic novel, is a high-speed allegory speeding down the science fiction tracks of genre cinema. That’s the way I like this brand of filmmaking: with the symbols big, muscular, detailed, and punchy. You either give yourself over to the metaphor, in this […]

Robert Mitchum stars in the Peter Yates crime classic adapted from the George V. Higgins novel

‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ on Kanopy

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), adapted from the terrific novel by George V. Higgins and produced in the wake of The French Connection, is probably the least heralded crime movie classic of the seventies. Robert Mitchum is Eddie ‘Fingers’ Coyle, a middleman working the fringes of the Boston underworld while awaiting sentencing, which prompts […]

Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in John Huston's 'The African Queen'

‘The African Queen’ – Bogie and Hepburn on Amazon Prime Video

The African Queen (1951) – Humphrey Bogart is Charlie Allnut, the hard-drinking captain of a sputtering steam-powered boat that gives the film its title. Katharine Hepburn is Rose Sayer, a spirited missionary spinster serving the Lord in German East Africa with her brother (Robert Morley). It’s September 1914, the early days of World War I, […]

Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Larry Fishburne in 'The Matrix'

‘The Matrix’ trilogy on Netflix

The Matrix (1999) has become such a touchstone of American pop culture—referenced, copied, parodied, and parroted)—that it’s hard to remember just how new and different and distinctive it was when it debuted in 1999. Which is not to say that it is completely original. Image Tron as a Greek Myth, or Sim City as an […]

Richard Linklater's 'Dazed and Confused

‘Dazed and Confused’ on Hulu

Dazed and Confused (1993) – Cinema has the unique ability to create a sensory experience vivid enough to make the past suddenly present and alive. Richard Linklater’s cinematic flashback Dazed and Confused captures a rich pageant of high-school life, circa 1976, in a mere 100 minutes, leaning on nostalgia without wallowing in it. Jason London […]

‘Adua and Her Friends’ on The Criterion Channel

Adua and Her Friends (Italy, 1960) are prostitutes from a Rome brothel attempting to take charge of their own lives after their place is shut down in the aftermath of Italy’s Merlin Law, which ended legalized prostitution in 1958. Adua (Simone Signoret), a veteran of the life, has a plan to open a restaurant as […]